A hundred thousand aeons ago the Buddha Padumuttara arose and, with the city of Hamsavatias his alms-resort, resided in the Deer Park called Khema. While he was so residing, a wealthy person of eighty crores named Vedeha (the future Maha Kassapa Mahathera) had his delicious early meal and observed Uposatha; with unguents, flowers. etc in his hand, he went to the monastery where he made obeisance and sat down at a proper place.
At that time the Buddha conferred an etadagga title on the Third Disciple, Maha Nisabha by name, saying: "Monks among my disciples. who themselves practise the dhutanga austerities and advise fellow monks to practise the same, Nisabha is foremost."
Hearing the Buddha's words Vedeha was very pleased and his faith increased and when the audience had left as the occasion came to an end, he respectfully paid homage to the Buddha and said: ''Exalted Buddha, please accept my alms-food tomorrow." "Donor," replied the Buddha, "the monks are too many!" "How many are they, Exalted Buddha?" When the Buddha said they were six million and eighty hundred thousand, he said boldly: "Exalted Buddha, without leaving even a single samanera at the monastery kindly have my meal together with all of your monks." The Buddha accepted the invitation of the devotee Vedeha by keeping silent.
Knowing well that the Buddha had accepted his invitation, Vedeha returned home and prepared a great offering and on the next morning sent a message to the Buddha announcing the time for having the meal. Taking his bowl and robe the Buddha went to Vedeha's house in the company of monks and sat down in the prepared seat. When the pouring of dedication water was over, the Buddha accepted the rice gruel, etc., and did the distribution and partaking of food. Sitting near the Buddha, Vedeha remained very pleased.
At that time, while on alms-round Maha Nisabha Mahathera came to that road. Seeing the Thern, Vedeha got up from his seat and drew near the Thera, showing his respect; he asked: "Venerable Sir, please hand your bowl to me." The noble Thera handed the bowl to Vedeha. "Please get into my house" said Vedeha, "the Exalted One is still seated there." "It is unbecoming to get into the house," the Thera replied. So the devotee filled the bowl with food and offered it to the Thera.
After sending off the noble Mahathera and returning home, Vedeha took his seat near the Buddha and said: "Exalted Buddha, although I told him that the Exalted Buddha was still here in my house, he did not want to come in. Does he possess virtues that are greater than yours?"
Never has a Buddha vannamacchariya, reluctance to speak in praise of others. Accorningly, the Buddha gave his reply as follows immediately after the lay devotee had asked:
"Donor, expecting food we are seated in your house. But Nisabha never sits, waiting for food. We occupy a dwelling near a village. But Nisabha stays in a forest dwelling. We stay under a roof. But Nisabha dwells only in open air. These are Nisabha's unusual attributes."
The Buddha elaborated the Thera's virtues as though he filled the ocean with some more water. As for Vedeha, he developed greater faith with greater satisfaction as though more oil is poured into the lamp that is burning with its own oil. So he came to a conclusion: "What use is there for me by human and divine luxuries? I shall resolve to become foremost among dhutavada monks who themselves practise dhutanga austerities and advise their co-residents to do so."
Again, the lay devotee Vedeha invited the Samgha headed by the Buddha to his food for the next day. In this way he offered a great Dana and on the seventh day, he distributed in charity three-piece robes to the monks. Then he fell at the feet of the Buddha and told of his wish as follows:
"Exalted Buddha, with the development of deed accompanied by loving-kindness (metta-kayakamma), word accompanied by loving-kindness (metta-vacikamma), and thought accompanied by loving-kindness (metta-manokamma), I have performed acts of merit for seven days such as this Mahadana. I do not long for the bliss of Devas, the bliss of Sakka or the bliss of Brahma as a result of my good work. As a matter of fact, may it be some wholesomeness that will enable me to strive for becoming foremost among those who practised the thirteen dhutanga practices in the lifetime of a coming Buddha-the position that has been achieved now by Maha Nisabha Mahathera."
Padumuttara Buddha also sureyed the Thera's future with his foreseeing power, wondering "whether he will achieve it or not, for it is so great an aspiration;" and he saw the man's wish would definitely be fullfilled. So the Buddha said prophetically as follows:
"Donor, you have expressed your wish for the position you love. In future at the end of a hundred thousand aeons, a Buddha by the name of Gotama shall arise. You shall then become the third Disciple, named Maha Kassapa, of the Buddha Gotama!"
Having heard that prophecy, the lay devotee Vedeha was happy as though he was going to attain that position even the following day, for he knew that "a Buddha speaks only the truth." As long as he lived Vedeha performed various sorts of charity, kept the precepts and did other wholesome deeds and on his death he was reborn in a divine abode.
From that time onwards the devotee enjoyed luxury in the divine and human worlds. Ninety-one aeons ago VipassiBuddha arose and was staying in the Deer Park called Khema with the city of Bandhumatias his alms-resort. He then passed from the divine world and took rebirth in an unknown poor Brahmin family.
VipassiBuddha used to hold a special convocation once in every seven years and gave discourses. In so doing he held day and night sessions so that every being might be able to attend. For the day session he spoke in the evening and for the night-session he spent the whole night. When the convocation was drawing near there arose a great noise and, Devas, roaming about the whole Jambudipa, announced that the Buddha would deliver a discourse.
The Brahmin, the future Maha Kassapa, heard the news. But he had only one garment. So did his housewife, the Brahmin woman. As for the upper garment, the couple had but one That was why he was known all over the town as Ekasataka Brahmin, "the Brahmin with one garment." When a meeting of Brahmins took place to discuss some business, the Brahmin himself went to the meeting leaving behind his wife at home; When an assembly of Brahmin women occurred, the Brahmin stayed at home; the wife went there, putting on that upper garment.
On the day the Buddha was to speak, Ekasataka asked his wife: "O dear wife, how is it? Will you go to hear the discourse at night or will you go for the day session?" "We womankind are unable to listen to sermons by night. I shall attend the day-session." So saying she (left her husband at home and) went along with other female lay devotees and donors to the day-session wearing the upper garment; there she paid respect to the Buddha, sat at a proper place and listened to the sermons and came back together with those female companions. Then, leaving his wife the Brahmin in his turn, put on the upper garment and went to the monastery at night.
At that time VipassiBuddha was gracefully seated on the Dhammathrone and, holding a round fan, spoke the Dhamma-words like a man swimming in the celestial river or like a man stirring up the ocean forcefully with Mount Meru used as a churning stick. The whole body of Ekasataka, who, sitting at the end of the assembly and listening, was filled with the five kinds of piti profusely even in the first watch of the night. The Brahmin folded the upper garment and was about to give it to the Buddha. Then he became reluctant to do so as stinginess (macchariya) occurred to him increasingly manifesting a thousand disadvantages of giving it away. When stinginess thus occurred to him, he utterly lost his willingness to offer because of his worry that had overwhelmed him as follws: "We have only one upper garment between my wife and myself. We have nothing else for a substitute. And we cannot go out without it." When the second watch of the night came, the five kinds of piti re-appeared in his mind, and he got his enthusiasm once more as before. During the last watch too he felt the same joyful emotion. But this time the Brahmin did not allow stinginess to appear again and was determined, saying to himself "Whether it is a matter of life or a matter of death, I will think of the clothing at a later time." With this determination he folded the garment, placed it at the feet of the Buddha and wholeheartedly offered it to the Master. Then he slapped his bent left arm with his right three times and uttered aloud also three times: "Victory is mine! Victory is mine!"
At that time King Bandhuma, seated behind the curtain at the back of the throne, was still listening to the Dhamma. As a king it was he who should desire victory; so the shout "Victory is mine!" did not please him. He therefore sent one of his men to enquire what the shout meant. When the man went to Ekasataka and asked about it, the Brahmin answered:
"Man, all princes and others, riding elephants, horses and carrying swords, spears, shields and cover, defeat their enemy troops. The victory achieved by them is no wonder. As for me, like a man who with a club struck the head of a bull and made the beast run away, the beast that had followed him and jumped about to kill him from behind, and I have defeated my stingy heart and successfully given in charity the upper garment of mine to the Buddha. I have overcome miserliness which is invincible."
The man came back and reported the matter to the king.
The king said, "Friend, we do not know what should be done to the Buddha. But the Brahmin does." So saying he sent a set of garment to the Brahmin. The Brahmin thought to himself: "The king gave me nothing as I kept silent at first. Only when I talked about the Buddha's attributes did he give this to me. What use is there for me with this set of garment that occurred to me in association with the Buddha's attributes?" So thinking he also offered the set of garment to the Buddha. The king asked his men as to what the Brahmin did to the garment set given by him and came to know that the poor man had also given it away to the Buddha. So he had two sets of garment sent to the Brahmin. Again the Brahmin gave them away to the Buddha. The king had then four sets sent to the Brahmin, who again gave them away to the Buddha. In this way the king doubled his gift each time and had thirty-two sets sent to the Brahmin. This time the Brahmin thought: "Giving away all to the Buddha without leaving some for us seem to mean that we are increasingly receiving the garments." Accordingly, out of the thirty-two sets he took one set for himself and another set for his wife and gave the rest to the Buddha. Since then the Brahmin had become friendly with the Master.
Then one day in the extremely cold evening the king saw the Brahmin listening to the Dhamma in the presence of the Buddha; the king gave the Brahmin his red rug which he was putting on and which was worth a hundred thousand, asking him to cover himself while listening to the Dhamma. But the Brahmin reflected: "What is the use of covering this putrid body of mine with this rug?" He therefore made it a canopy and offered it to the Buddha after fixing it above the Buddha's couch in the Fragrant Chamber. Touched by the Buddha's six-coloured rays, the rug became all the more beautiful. Seeing the rug the king remembered what it was and said to the Buddha: "Exalted Buddha, that rug once belonged to me. I gave it to Ekasataka Brahmin to put on while attending your Dhamma assembly." The Buddha replied: "Great King, you honoured the Brahmin, and the Brahmin honoured me." The king thought to himself: "The Brahmin knows what should be done to the Exalted Buddha but we do not." So thinking the king gave all kinds of useful articles to the Brahmin, each kind equally numbering sixty-four. Thus he performed the act of charity called atthatthaka to the Brahmin and appointed him Purohita.
Understanding that atthatthaka, 'eight by eight', means sixty-four, the Purohita sent daily sixty-four vessels of food for distribution among the monks by lot. Thus he established his Dana as long as he lived, and on his death he was reborn again in the realm of Devas.
Passing away from the realm of Deva, the future Maha Kassapa was reborn in the house of a lay man in the city of Baranasiduring the Buddhantara Period between the two Buddhas, Konagamana and Kassapa, in this Bhadda-kappa. When he grew up he married and while living a householder's life he one day took a stroll towards the forest. At that time, a certain Pacceka Buddha was stitching a robe near a river-bank, and as he did not have enough cloth to make a hem he folded up the unfinished robe.
When the householder saw the Pacceka Buddha, he asked the latter why he had folded the robe. When the Pacceka Buddha answered that he had done so because he did not have enough cloth for the hem, he gave his own dress saying: "Please make the hem with it, Venerable Sir." Then he expressed his wish, praying: "In my coming existences in samsara, may I know no lack of things."
Later on at the householder's place there was a quarrel between the householder's sister and his wife. While they were quarrelling a certain Pacceka Buddha came in to receive alms-food. Then the householder's sister offered the food to the Pacceka Buddha and said, "May I be able to avoid her even from a distance of a hundred yojanas," and she meant by 'her' the householder's wife. While standing at the doorway, the wife heard the prayer, and thinking "May the Pacceka Buddha not partake of the other woman's food," she took the alms-bowl and threw away the food and filled the bowl with mud before she gave it back to the Pacceka Buddha. Seeing what the wife was doing, the sister scolded her, saying: "Hey you stupid woman, you may abuse me, or even beat me if you wish; but it is not proper to throw away the food and fill the bowl with mud and give it back to the Pacceka Buddha, who have fulfilled Paramis for so long a period of innumerable years."
Then only did the householder's wife regain her moral sense and said: "Wait, please, Venerable Sir." Then she begged his pardon and threw away the mud from the bowl and washed it thoroughly and rubbed it with fragrant powder. She then filled the bowl with catumadhu, and poured butter which was white like the colour of thickly grown lotus, and added brilliance thereby. Handing the bowl back to the Pacceka Buddha, the woman said: "Just as this food shines, even so may my body emanate brilliant rays." The Pacceka Buddha spoke words of appreciation, gave his blessing and flew up into the sky. The husband and wife performed meritorious deeds throughout their lives and upon their death they were reborn in the divine world.
Again, when they passed away from the divine world, the householder landed during the lifetime of the Buddha Kassapa in the city of Baranasias the son of a wealthy merchant who owned eighty crores worth of riches. Similarly, his wife became the daughter of another wealthy merchant.
When the son came of age, that very daughter was brought to his home as his wife. Because of her past misdeed, the result of which until now had been latent, as soon as she passed the threshold while entering the house, putrid smell issued forth from her body as though the toilet was opened. When the merchant son asked whose smell it was and came to know that it was the odour of the bride who had just come, he ordered that the bride be expelled and sent back to her parents' house in the same pomp and grandeur that had attended her when she came. In this way she had to return to her parents' home from seven different places because of the foul smell that appeared as soon as she was in-door. Terrible indeed is an evil deed!
At that time, as Kassapa Buddha had attained Parinibbana, people began to erect a relic-shrine (dhatu-cetiya) a yojana high with bricks of gold worth a hundred thousand and was made from pure solid bullion. While the cetiya was under construction, it occurred to the lady thus: "I am the one who had to return from seven places. What is the use of my living long?" So she sold out her jewellery and by the money thus obtained she had a gold brick made, one cubit long, half a cubit wide and four fingers thick Afterwards, she took the gold brick together with orpiment and eight lotus stalks and went where the shrine was situated.
At that moment a brick was wanted to fill the gap that appeared when an encircling layer of bricks were laid as part of the shine. So she said to the master mason; "Please, Sir fill the gap with my brick." "O lady," replied the master mason, "you have come at an opportune moment. Do it by yourself."
When permitted wholeheartedly thus, the wealthy daughter climbed up to that spot and, having mixed the orpiment with the liquid ingredient, she filled the gap with her brick by means of that cohesive mixture. Then she paid homage by placing the lotus stalks at the brick and expressed her wish. "In whatever existence in samsara, may the sandalwood fragrant emanate from my body and lotus fragrance from my mouth!" After worshipping the shrine respectfully she went home.
At that moment the wealthy merchant's son, to whom the lady was first sent, came to remember her. A festival was held in full swing then. The son asked his men: "Once there was a girl brought to my house; in whose house is she now?" When the men answered that the young lady was still at her father's house, the man said: "Friends, go and fetch her. Let us enjoy the festival together with her." So saying he sent his men for her.
When they got to the young lady's place, they paid respect to her and stood there. When the lady asked about their visit, they spoke of their purpose. "Brothers," said the lady, "I have offered all my ornaments in honour of the cetiya. I have no more to put on." The men reported the matter to their master. "You just bring the girl" said the man, "she will get some jewellery." So the lady was brought to him by his men. As soon as the merchant's daughter entered the house, the whole house was filled with sandalwood fragrance as well as lotus.
The wealthy son asked: "The first time you came here your body issued forth foul smell. But now it is sandalwood fragrance from your body and lotus from your mouth. What is the reason for that?" When the whole story of her meritorious act was told, the man's faith developed as he thought, "Ah, the Buddha's teaching is indeed able to free one from the cycle of suffering!" Accordingly, he wrapped up the golden shrine measuring a yojana, with velvet blankets. At certain places he made decorations in the form of golden paduma lotus flowers so as to add exquisive beauty to the shrine, the flowers being the size of a chariot's wheel. The hanging stems and stalks of the golden lotus were twelve cubits in length.
Having done meritorious deeds in that existence, the wealthy husband and wife lived the full span of life and were reborn in a divine realm on their death. Again, when they passed away from that realm, the husband landed at a place a yojana away from the city of Baranasiin the family of a noble man while the wife became the eldest princess in the palace in that city.
When both came of age, an announcement was made to hold a festival in the village where the noble man's son (Nanda) lived. Then Nanda asked his mother for a dress to put on while enjoying the festive amusements and got a washed, second hand dress. The son asked for [ 73 ] another dress on the ground that the one given to him was coarse. The mother gave another dress as a substitute. But it was also rejected because of its roughness. When the giving was repeated several times in this way, the mother said: "We are of such a noble man's household, dear son. We are not fortunate enough to have clothes better than this." "In that case, mother, I shall go where finer clothing is available." "I wish you, dear son," replied the mother, "kingship of Barainasieven today." Thus the mother gave her consent with such auspicious words.
Having done obeisance to his mother, the young Nanda asked her permission to go. And the mother willingly gave her permission. But she did so because of her conviction, thinking, "Where is my son going? He has nowhere else to go: He will be staying here and there in my home." As fate had decided Nanda left his village for Baranasiand took a nap with his head covered on the stately stone-couch in the royal garden. That was the seventh day after the king's demise.
The ministers performed the funeral rites and held a meeting in the courtyard, discussing among themselves: "Only a daughter was born to the king. He had no son. A kingdom without a king is unseemly. Who should become the monarch?" They proposed one another for kingship saying, "Be our king!", "(No) You should become the ruler." Then the Brahmin Purohita said: "We should not see many persons [to choose from]. Let us send the state chariot to search for the deserving one!" When the Purohita's decision was agreed upon by all, they let the state chariot loose that was followed by the four army divisions with the five kinds of musical instruments played.
.The chariot departed through the eastern gate of the city and ran towards the royal garden. Some people suggested that the chariot should be turned back because it was running towards the garden as a result of its force of habit. The suggestion, however, was rejected by the Purohita. The chariot entered the garden, circumambulated Nanda three times and stopped and set itself ready for Nanda to get on. After removing the edge of the covering cloth, from Nanda, the Purohita studied his soles and declared: "Let alone the Jambudipa, this man is worthy to rule over the four continents with their two thousand surrounding smaller islands." He also ordered the musicians to play three times.
Then Nanda removed the cloth that covered his face and saw the ministers with whom he entered a conversation: Nanda :For what purpose did you come here? Ministers :Great King, the kingship of Baranasi has come to you.
Nanda :Where is the king?
Ministers :He has passed away, Sir.
Nanda :How many days have elapsed since his passing away?
Ministers :Today is the seventh day.
Nanda :Did not the late king have a son or a daughter?
Ministers :He had only one daughter, but no son, Great king.
When the ministers said thus, he accepted kingship, saying: "In that case, I shall act as king." Then the ministers constructed a pavilion for consecration and brought the princess fully bedecked and made him king of Baranasiafter duly holding royal consecration ceremony.
Thereafter the ministers offered a dress costing a thousand coins to the consecrated Nanda. "Friends, what sort of clothing is it?" asked King Nanda. "Great King, it is for you to put on." "Friends," enquired the king, "this is but a coarse clothing. Have not you got a finer one?" "Great king, there is no finer one among the clothes to be used by men," replied the ministers "Did your late king put on such a dress?" asked Nanda. When the ministers answered in the positive, King Nanda remarked: "Your late king did not seem to be one of great fortune. Bring a golden jar [full of water]. We shall get very fine clothing." The ministers brought it and handed it to the king.
Rising from his seat, the king washed his hand and mouth, and carrying the water with his cupped hand, he tossed it in the direction of the east. Then eight wish-fulfilling trees emerged breaking up the great massive earth. When he did the same in the southern, the western and, northern directions, eight trees in each direction emerged. In this way there were thirty-two wish-fulfilling trees in the four directions. King Nanda wrapped the lower part of his body in a divine robe and put on another one for the upper part. Then he had an announcement made by the beat of drum, the announcement being "In this state of King Nanda let no women spin yarns!" He also raised the royal white umbrella, bedecked himself with adornments, entered the city on the back of an elephant, ascended the upper terrace of the palace and enjoyed a great kingly life.
After some years of Nanda's enjoyment of kingly life, the queen watching his life, showed her manner expressing pity as she thought: "Rare indeed is a new act of merit!" When the king asked why her manner expressed pity, she said remindingly: "Your luxurious life is really great. That is because you have truly performed good deeds with faith in the past. But now you do nothing for future happiness." "Whom should we give alms?" argued the king, "There are no virtuous recipients!" "Great King, the Jambudipa is not void of Arahants. You better arrange things to be given. I shall bring worthy individuals to receive," said the queen boldly.
The next day the king had the offerings arranged at the eastern gate of the city. The queen performed a vow early to observe the precepts and facing to the east and prostrating, invited by word of mouth. "If there be Arahants in the eastern direction, may they come and accept our alms-f'ood!" Since there were no Arahants in that direction, nobody came to do so. The offerings had to be made to destitutes and beggars. On the next day similar arrangements took place at the southern gate. The third day saw them too at the western gate. But no Arahants came from those directions either as there were none.
On the fourth day the offerings were arranged at the northern gate, and when the queen extended her invitation as before, Mahapaduma Pacceka Buddha, the oldest of five hundred Pacceka Buddhas, who were all sons of Queen Padumavati, addressed his younger brothers. "Brother Pacceka Buddhas, King Nanda has invited you. Accept his invitation with pleasure!" The Noble Ones accepted the invitation with pleasure, washed their faces at the Anotatta lake, came on their air journey and descended at the city's northern gate.
The citizens went to the king and informed him: "Great King, five hundred Pacceka Buddhas have come". With the queen the king went to the Pacceka Buddhas and welcomed them with folded hands. Holding the alms-bowl, he brought the five hundred Pacceka Buddhas to the upper terrace of the palace after performing the great act of alms-giving. When the performance was over, the king sitting at the feet of the eldest member of the assembly and the queen at the feet of the youngest member, made a request, saying: "Venerable Sirs, if you stay in our garden, you all will be happy with our supply of requisites. There will also be growth of merit on our part. Therefore, please give us your promise to stay in the garden of BaranasiCity." The promise was given to the king, who made full accommodations such as five hundred lodgings, five hundred walks, etc., in the royal garden. The four requisites were also provided to them so that they might find no trouble.
When such provision had lasted for some time, a state of unrest and disturbance took place in the border areas. The king asked her queen to look after the Pacceka Buddhas during his absence as he had to go and quell the border rebellion. And he left the city.
As the king had instructed, the queen supported the Pacceka Buddhas with the four requisites carefully. After some days, just before the king's return, the life process of the Pacceka Buddhas came to an end. So the eldest one; Mahapaduma, spent all three watches of the night in Jhana, and standing and leaning against the wooden back-rest, attained Anupadisesa Parinibbana. In the same manner the rest of Pacceka Buddhas attained Parinibbana.
On the next day, the queen prepared the seats for the Pacceka Buddha by applying cow-dung, strewing flowers and letting the air pervaded with perfumes, and waiting for their coming. As she did not see any signs of their approaching, she sent a male servant, saying: "Go, my son, and find out the reason. Is there any mental or physical discomfort happening to the Venerable Ones?"
When the royal servant went to the garden and looked for the Mahapaduma Pacceka Buddha after opening the door of his dwelling, he did not see him there; he went to the walk and saw him standing and leaning against the wooden board. After paying homage to him, the men invited the [first] Pacceka Buddha saying: "It is time to have meal. Venerable Sirs!" How could the lifeless person that had attained Parinibbana and was conditioned only by temperature utter in reply? There occurred no word at all. Thinking that the Pacceka Buddha was sleeping the man moved nearer and felt the back of his feet with his hands. After making such investigations, he came to know full well of the Pacceka Buddha's attainment of Parinibbana, for the feet were cold and stiff. So he went to the second Pacceka Buddha and then similarly to the third one. When he investigated thus, he realized that the Pacceka Buddhas had all reached the state of total extinction. On his return to the palace, the queen asked him: "Where are the Pacceka Buddhas, son?" "They had all attained Parinibbana, Madam" answered the man. The queen wept bitterly and went out from the city to the royal garden with citizens and performed funeral rites and cremation; she also took the relics and had a cetiya built (with the relics enshrined).
Having brought the border areas to normalcy, the king returned to the city and on seeing the queen who had come to meet him, he asked: "Dear Queen, did you attend to the Pacceka Buddhas without any negligence? Are the Noble Ones keeping fit?" When the queen replied that they all passed into Parinibbana the king was shocked and reflected: "Even to these Wise Ones of such nature occurred death! How can there he liberation from death for us!"
The king did not proceed to the city but entered the royal garden straight. He called his eldest son and handed kingship over to him and himself adopted the life of a recluse (like a monk in the dispensation of a Buddha). The queen too, thinking "If the king becomes a recluse, what is there for me to do? Of course, there is none!" followed suit as a female ascetic in the royal garden. Having developed Jhanas, both were reborn in the realm of Brahmas.
While they were still in the Brahma's realm, the time had come for our Buddha to arise. At that time Pippali the youth, the future Maha Kassapa, took conception in the womb of the wife of a wealthy Brahmin named Kapila in the Brahmin village of Mahatittha in the Magadha country whereas his wife, the future Bhaddakapilani, did the same in the womb of the wife of another wealthy Brahmin, a Kosiya descendant, in the city of Sagala also in the Magadha kingdom.
When they grew up, the young Pippali being twenty years of age and Bhaddakapilani sixteen, the former's parents noticed that their son had come of age and asked him by force to get married, saying: "Dear son, you have come of age to raise a family. One's lineage-should last long!" As Pippali had come from the Brahma world, he refused to listen and said: "Please do not utter such words into my ears. I shall attend to you as long as you live, and when you are gone, I shall take up a homeless life as a recluse". After two or three days the parents again persuaded him. The son remained resolute. Another persuasion took place but that too fell on a deaf ear. From that time onwards the mother proved to be insistent.
When the insistence became too much, Pippali thought: "I shall let my mother know how much I want to become a monk!" So he gave a thousand ticals of gold to the goldsmiths, asking them to create a gold statue of a girl out of it. When the statue had been created and polishing had been done, he dressed up the statue with red garments and adorned it with colourful flowers and brilliant ornaments. Then he called his mother and said: "O mother, I shall remain at home provided I get a girl as beautiful as this statue! If not, I shall not do so."
Since the Brahmin mother, the wife of a wealthy merchant, was wise, she considered: "My son is one who has done good works, who has performed alms-givings, who has expressed his noble aspiration. While he was engaging in acts of merit in his past existence it was unlikely that he did them alone. Indeed my son must have got an excellent woman, very pretty like a golden figure, with whom he did meritorious deeds." So considering, she summoned eight Brahmins, had a great honour made to them and got the gold statue placed on a chariot and said: "Go, brothers! If you see a girl resembling this gold statue in a family who equals ours in caste, lineage and wealth, give the statue to her as a gift or as a pledge." With these words she sent the Brahmins away.
The eight Brahmins admitted, saying. "This indeed is a task to be done by the wise like us." So saying they left the village and discussed among themselves on the destination of their journey. Then they decided unanimously thus: "In this world, the country of Madda is the home of beautiful women. Let us go to Madda land." So they went to the city of Sagala which lay in that state. Having left the statue at the bathing-ford in that city, they were watching from a proper place.
At that time the female attendant of Bhaddakapilani, the daughter of a wealthy Brahmin, bathed her and bedecked her with ornaments and left her in the chamber of splendour before she went to the bathingford. On seeing the statue she thought. "My mistress has come ahead of me!" Then she scolded her and grumbled in various ways. "Hey little stubborn daughter! Why are you staying here alone?" As she said "Go home quick!" she raised her hand to strike her mistress. When she actually did strike the back of the statue, the whole of her palm was hurt very much as though it had struck a stone slab. The female attendant stepped back and spoke harshly to pick up a quarrel thus: "Oh! Although I saw this woman of such awful touch and thick neck, how foolish I have been to mistake her for my mistress! She is not worthy even to hold my lady's skirt!"
Then the eight Brahmins surrounded the attendant, asking: "Is your mistress of such beauty?" "What beauty is this lady of? Our lady's beauty is more than a hundred times or a thousand times superior to that of this lady," retorted the attendant, "if she sits in a room of twelve cubits, it is not necessary to light a lamp there; darkness can be expelled by her natural complexion." "In that case," said the Brahmins, "come, let us go!" So saying they took the attendant, and having brought the gold statue, they went to the house of the wealthy Brahmin of Kosiya clan and stopped at the doorway to announce their visit.
The Brahmin treated them well as a host and asked them as to where from did they come. They replied that they came from the home of the wealthy Brahmin Kapila of Mahatittha village in the kingdom of Magadha. When the host asked for the reason, they told him of the purpose of their visit. "Friends," said Kosiya Brahmin; "It is a welcome purpose. Kapila Brahmin is equal to me by birth, by descent and by wealth. I shall give our daughter as a bride." Having promised thus, Kosiya Brahmin took over the statue. The visiting Brahmins then sent a message to Kapila Brahmin, saying: "The bride has been found. Go ahead with doing whatever is necessary."
Getting the news, the servants of Pippali transmitted it to him gleefully, saying: "Master, the bride for you who looks like your gold statue has been found, it is learnt!" But Pippali reflected: "I thought it was impossible to get her. Now they said that 'the bride has been won!' As I do not want her, I shall write a letter and send it to her." So he went to a secluded place and wrote a letter as follows:
"I would like my dear sister to marry another proper man of equal by birth, descent and wealth. I am one who will adopt the life of a recluse in a forest. I do not wish you to be in distress later on."
Then he sent the letter secretly to Bhadda.
When the daughter of the wealthy Brahmin lady Bhadda learnt the news that her parents were desirous of giving her in marriage to Pippali the youth, son of the wealthy Brahmin Kapila of Mahatittha village, Magadha country, she similarly went into seclusion and wrote the following letter:
"I would like my brother to get married to another woman of equal caste, family and wealth. I am one going forth and becoming a female recluse. I do not want you to be unhappy afterwards."
She then sent the letter in secret to Pippali.
When the two parties of messengers met in midway, Bhadda's men asked: "From whom is the letter you are carrying, friends, and to whom is it going?" Pippali's men replied honestly: "The letter is sent by our master Pippali to Bhadda." They also asked in return: "From whom is the letter you are conveying and for whom is it meant?" Bhadda's men gave a straightforward reply: "It is from our mistress to Pippali."
When the messengers from both sides agreeingly opened and read the letters, they were amazed to know the significantly spiritual sense of the letters and said: "Look what the groom and the bride are doing!" Then they tore both the letters and threw them away in the forest. They also wrote two new letters expressing reciprocal agreement and gladness and sent them to their respective addresses. In this way the time for marriage between Pippali, the son of a wealthy merchant, and Bhadda, the daughter of another wealthy merchant, came as brought about by their parents and the middlemen despite their unwillingness for household life.
On the day of their marriage either of them brought a garland of flowers; he placed his and she hers in the middle of their bed. Having had their dinner both simultaneously came to their bed and got on to it, Pippali by his right side and Bhadda by her left. They made an agreement thus: "The party, the garland of whose side withers, is to be regarded as having lustful thoughts. And the garlands should be left untouched." Both of them spent the night without being able to sleep throughout all three watches lest one should unconsciously touch the other. The garlands remained unwithered. By day they behaved like brother and sister even without a smile tinged with pleasure.
Both the wealthy son and the wealthy daughter kept themselves aloof from fondness of sensual pleasure (lokamisa) and took no care of their household business at the same time; only when their parents passed away did they manage the business. The wealth belonging to Pippali was great: his gold and silver was worth eighty-seven crores. Even the gold dust which he threw away each day after using it for rubbing his body could amount to twelve Magadha cups (equal to six patthas) if collected. He owned sixty mechanized dams. The measurement of his farm was twelve yojanas. He had fourteen large villages as the colony of his servants and workers, fourteen divisions of elephant troops, fourteen divisions of cavalry and fourteen divisions of chariots.
One day the wealthy Pippali went to his farm riding a fully equipped horse and while he was stopping at the edge of the farm, he saw crows and birds picking up earthworms and insects and eating them. He asked his servants what the crows and birds were eating and the servants answered that they were eating earthworms and insects. Again he asked: "Who is responsible for the evil acts of the crows and birds?" "As the farm is ploughed for you, Sir, you are responsible for those evil deeds," replied the servants. The reply stirred up Pippali's spiritual emotions, causing him to reflect seriously thus: "If I am responsible for the evil deeds done by the crows and birds, what is the use of eightyseven crores worth of my gold and silver. Indeed none! Nor is there any use of my riches such as the twelve-yojana vast farm, of the sixty mechanized dams and of the fourteen large villages of my workers. Indeed there is no use of them all! Therefore I shall hand over these riches to my wife Bhaddakapilaniand go forth to become a monk!"
At that moment his wife Bhaddakapilanihad sesame from three big jars spread out on mats and placed in the sun. While seated and surrounded by her maids she saw crows and other birds picking and eating sessame worms. When she asked her maids she came to know what the birds were eating. On further enquiry she was informed that she must be responsible for the evil acts done by the birds as the job was done for her sake. She too reflected seriously thus: "Oh, it is enough for me if I just get four cubits of cloth to wear and a cupful of rice cooked to eat. (I cannot wear more than four cubits of cloth; nor can I eat more than one cupful of cooked rice. ) If I am responsible for these wrongdoings done by others, surely I will not be able to surface myself from samsara the cycle of suffering, even after a thousand existences. When my husband comes, I shall give away all my wealth to him and leave household life and become a nun."
The wealthy Pippali returned home and had a bath, went up to the upper terrace and sat down on a high seat which only noble personalities deserve. Then the feast worthy of a Universal Monarch was arranged and served to the merehant. Both the wealthy Pippali and his wife Bhaddakapilanitook the meal, and when their servants went away they retired to their quiet resort and stayed quietly at ease.
Thereafter the two discussed between themselves as follows:
Pippali:Madam Bhadda, when you came to this house, how much wealth did you bring?
Bhadda: I brought my wealth by fifty-five thousand carts.
Pippali: The wealth brought by you and the wealth extant here in this house such as eighty-seven crores of riches, sixty mechanized dams, ete., I entrust them all with you.
Bhadda: Oh, but where are you going?
Pippali: I am going to make myself a recluse, Madam,
Bhadda: Oh, Sir, I too have been readily waiting for the time of your coming back. I too shall become myself a female recluse.
To these two individuals endowed with Paramis, the three existences of sensual pleasures (kama), materiality (rupa) and immateriality (arupa) manifested to be three leaf-huts blazing with fire. The two great personality of Parami, therefore, had the robes and bowls bought from the market and had one's hair shaved by the other. Saying, "We dedicate our renunciation of the world to the noble Arahants," they came down from the main terrace with their bags, in which were put their bowls, hanging from their left shoulders. None of the servant and workers at home, male or female, recognized the two Paramiseekers.
Then the couple who left the Brahmin village of Mahatittha and went out by the servants' village gate were seen and recognized from their behaviour that they were the master and the mistress. Crying bitterly they fell at their feet and asked sorrowfully: "Master and mistress, why do you make us helpless?" The couple replied: "We have become recluses as we were shocked by the likeness between the three existences and the leaf-hut on fire. If we were to set you free from servitude one after another there will be no end even after a hundred years. Get your heads washed and be liberated from servitude and live free." So saying they left while the servants were wailing.
While he was going ahead, Pippali the noble Thera thought in retrospect thus:
"This beautiful TheriBhaddakapilani, who is precious as much as the whole Jambudipa, has been following me. There is reason for any body to misunderstand us thinking 'These two cannot part from each other even though they have become recluses; they are doing something not in harmony with their ascetic guise.' And if one misunderstands us, one is in danger of landing in a state of woe. Therefore I should desert this fair lady, BhaddakapilaniTheri."
As he went on ahead, the noble Thera found a junction of two roads and stopped there. Having followed from behind, Bhadda Theri stopped there too and stood with her hands joined in reverence. Then the noble Thera addressed the Theri: "Bhadda Theri, people seeing a beautiful lady like you following me might offend us by wrongly thinking: 'These two individuals cannot part from each other despite their ascetic life and would thereby land in a woeful state. So take whichever road you choose between these two. I shall go by the road you do not prefer."
Bhadda Theri too replied thus: "Oh, yes, Sir! womankind means blemish to a monk. People would also blame us, saying that we are unable to leave each other even after becoming ascetics. You, Sir, follow one road. I shall follow the other. Let us be separated." Then she circumambulated exactly three times, and paid homage respectfully with the five kinds of veneration at the four places such as the front, the back, the left and the right of the Thera. With her hands joined and raised, she said: "Our love and intimacy as husband and wife that started a hundred aeons ceases today." She added: "You are of nobler birth, so the right road befits you. We womenfolk are of lesser birth. So the left one suits me." Saying thus she proceeded by the left road.
When the two walked separate paths, the great earth quaked, roaring echoingly as if it were uttering "Though I can bear up the universal mountains and Mount Meru, I cannot do so with regard to the virtues of these two marvellous personages!" There appeared thundering sounds in the sky, too. The universal mountains and Mount Meru grew up higher and higher (because of the earthquake).
By that time the Buddha arrived in Rajagaha after observing the first vassa and (in that year of his Enlightenment) was still sojourning in comfort in the Veluvana monastery. (It was a time before his journey to Kapilavatthu) While he was staying in the fragrant chamber of the monastery, he heard the noise of the quake of the great earth. As he reflected as to for whom the earth quaked, he came to know thus: "On account of the power of their virtues, Pippali the young man and Bhaddakapilani the young woman have become ascetics after having unflinchingly renounced their incomparable wealth, dedicating their lives to me. The quake took place at the junction where they parted. On my part it will be proper only if I do a favour to them." So he went out of the fragrant chamber, personally carrying his bowl and robe. And even without asking any of the eighty great Disciples to accompany him, he travelled alone to a distance of three gavutas to extend his welcome. He sat cross-legged at the foot of the banyan tree known as Bahuputtaka between Rajagaha and Nalanda.
What was peculiar to the Buddha now was that he did not sit there as an unknown monk practising dhutanga austerities; in order to promote the faith of the Venerable Maha Kassapa who had never seen him before, the Buddha did not conceal his natural splendour that shone forth with the major and minor marks; instead he sat there, emanating the massive Buddha's rays and illuminating brilliantly up to a distance of eighty cubits. The rays that were of the size of a leafy umbrella, or that of a cart-wheel or that of a pinnacled gable, rushed from place to place, brightening the whole forest grove as though it were a time when a thousand moons or a thousand suns rose with all their brightness. Therefore the whole forest grove was very pleasant with the splendour of the thirty-two marks of a great man like the sky brightened by stars, or like the water surface with the five kinds of lotus blossoming in groups and clusters. Though the natural colour of the trunk of the banyan tree must be white, that of the leaves green and the old leaves red, by the splendour of the Buddha's body, the whole of the Bahuputtaka banyan tree with many branches was all gold and yellow on that very day as they were bathed in the liminous rays of the Buddha's body light.
Maha Kassapa Thera thought: "This Venerable One must be my Teacher, the Buddha. Indeed I have become a monk, dedicating my monkhood to this very Teacher." From the spot on which he stood and saw the Buddha, the Thera walked up, bending his body; to a nearer distance. At all these three places far place, neither far nor near, near place, he adoringly worshipped the Buddha and received his discipleship by declaring three times thus: "Sattha me Bhante Bhagava, savako'hamasmi, 'Glorious Buddha, you are my Teacher! I am your disciple, Sir!"
Then the Buddha replied: "Dear son Kassapa, if you showed such immense reverence to the great earth, it might not be able to stand it. As for me, who have fared well like former Buddhas, the tremendous reverence shown by you, who are aware of such immensity of my qualities, cannot make a single hair of my body tremble. Dear son Kassapa, be seated. I shall give you my inheritance." (This is the exposition of the Etadagga Vagga, Ekaka Nipata of the Anguttara Commentary and the exposition of the Maha Kassapa Thera-Gatha, Cattalisa Nipata of the Theragatha Commentary.
In the Civara Sutta of the Kassapa Samyutta, Nidana-vagga, however, it is said as follows: When the Mahathera Kassapa solemnly declared his discipleship thrice, the Buddha said:
"Kassapa, if a man without knowing a pupil of all-round perfect mentality says 'I know', or without seeing him says 'I see', his head will fall off. As for me I say 'I know' because I do know him, or I say 'I see' because I do see him."
(Herein the meaning is: if a teacher outside the dispensation of the Buddhas admitted saying that he knew or saw without actually knowing or seeing an extremely faithful disciple with all mentality who showed extreme veneration as Maha Kassapa Thera did, the head of that teacher would drop off his neck as a ripe toddy-palm fruit does from its stem. Or it might split into seven pieces.
(Herein it may further be explained as follows: If Maha Kassapa Thera were to direct his great veneration, generated by such faith, to the great ocean, its water might disappear like drops of water falling into a tremendously hot iron pan would. If he were to direct his veneration towards the mountain of the universe it would break up into pieces like a ball of husks. If he were to direct it to Mount Meru, the mountain would be destroyed and tumble down in disarray like a lump of dough pecked by a crow's beak would. If he were to direct it towards the great earth, its soil would be scattered as a great pile of ashes when blown off by the wind. The Mahathera's veneration of such might could not make a hair on the back of the Buddha's instep tremble. Let alone Maha Kassapa Thera, even thousands of monks equal to the Mahathera would be unable to do so by performing their veneration. Theirs was powerless even to disturb a soft hair on the Buddha's instep, even to shake a single thread of the robe made of rags that the Exalted One was putting on. So great was the might of the Buddha.)
Having said, "Dear son Kassapa, be seated. I shall give you my inheritance," as has been mentioned before, the Buddha gave the Mahathera three pieces of advice (according to the Civara Sutta of the Kassapa Samyutta):
"Kassapa, you must therefore practise thinking thus: "I shall abide by hiri and ottappa in dealing with those monks of higher standing, lower standing, or equal standing."
"Kassapa, you must therefore practise thinking thus 'I shall listen to all teachings on wholesomeness. I shall listen attentively to all these teachings, respectfully reflecting on them and bearing them well.
"Kassapa, you must therefore practise, thinking thus 'Mindfulness on the body (kayagata-sati) accompanied by happiness (sukha) shall never desert me!"
The Buddha gave him these three pieces of advice. Maha Kassapa Thera also received them respectfully. This three-piece advice amounted to the Mahathera's ordination lower as well as higher. Such kind of ordination the Venerable Maha Kassapa alone received in the Buddha's dispensation. And such is know as ovada-patiggahana upasampada, "ordination through acceptance of the Buddha's advice."
(Herein the Buddha grained the Mahathera Kassapa's ordination as a bhikkhu my means of these three pieces of advice. Of these three, the first is: "Dear son Kassapa, you must develop first the two 'effective' virtues of hiri and ottappa as you encounter three classes of fellow bhikkhus, namely, those of higher standing, who are senior to you by age and ordination, those of lower standing who are junior to you, and those of medium standing, who are equal to you," By this first advice Mahakassapa Thera was taught to abandon pride in birth, for he was of the Brahmin caste,
(The second advice is: "Dear son Kassapa, while you are listening to the faultless teaching you must be respectfully attentive by lending both your ears, the wisdom ear as well as the natural one, in all three phases of the teaching, the beginning, in the middle and towards the end". By this second advice the Mahathera was taught to abandon arrogance springing from his wide knowledge, for he was highly intelligent.
(The third advice is: "Dear son Kassapa, you must strive not to let the First Jhana get away from your mental process, the Jhana which is accompanied by feeling of happiness (sukha vedana) originated in mindfulness of the body (kayagata-sati) and the sense-object of breathing-in and out (anapana arammana)." By this third advice the Mahathera was taught to abandon self-love and self-craving (tanha-lobha) developing from possession of strong personality (upadhi), for he was good looking.
Having made Maha Kassapa Thera an advice-receiving monk at the foot of the Bahuputtaka banyan tree as has been said, the Buddha left and set out on a journey with the noble Mahathera as his follower. While the Buddha had thirty-two marks of a great being on his body and was thus exquisitely splendoured, Maha Kassapa Thera was graceful with seven marks. The latter closely followed the Buddha as a small golden boat trails a big golden one. After going some distance the Buddha diverted from the main road and gave a hint that he would like to sit at the foot of a tree. Knowing that the Master was desirous of sitting, the Mahathera made his (very soft) upper robe fourfold and spread it and said: "Exalted Buddha, may the glorious Buddha be seated here. The act of the Exalted Buddha's sitting will bring welfare and happiness to me for long."
Having sat down on the outer robe in four folds, the Buddha felt the edge of the robe with his hand having the colour of a lotus blossom and said: "Dear son Kassapa, this upper robe of yours made of an old piece of cloth is very soft indeed!"
(Herein 'why did the Buddha uttered words of praise?' The answer should be: because he wanted to make exchange of robes with him.
Why did the Buddha want to make exchange of robes?' The answer should be: because he wanted to install the Mahathera in his position."
("For such installment were there not Sariputta and Moggalana Mahatheras?" one might argue. The answers is: Yes, they were there But it occurred to the Buddha thus: "Both of them will not live long. They will attain Parinibbana before me. Kassapa, however, will live for a hundred and twenty years. Four months after my Parinibbana, in the cave where a sattapanni tree grows he will hold a Council at which a mass recital in approval (sangayana) of the Dhamma and the Vinaya will be done; he will thus render service to my dispensation so that it may last for five thousand years.' The Buddha also was of the opinion that "if I install him in my place, monks will show obedience to him." Hence the Buddha's desire to install the Mahathera in his (the Buddha's) position. It was for this reason that the Buddha was desirous of exchanging of robes. It was because of this desire that the Buddha spoke in praise of Maha Kassapa.)
If somebody admiringly spoke of the good quality of the bowl or that of the robe, it was a natural practice of the noble Mahathera to say: "Please accept the bowl, Venerable Sir," or "Please receive the robe, Venerable Sir "Therefore, knowing by hint that "the Exalted Buddha would like to put on my outer robe, for he admired its softness," the Mahathera said: "Exalted Buddha, may the Glorious One please put on this outer robe." "Dear son Kassapa,-which robe will you don then?" asked the Buddha. "If I get the kind of robe you are wearing, I will don it," replied the Mahathera. Then the Buddha said: "Dear son Kassapa, can you do that? This robe made of rags have become very old because of my long use. Indeed, when I picked it up, that day saw the quake of this great earth down to the water limit. Those of less virtue are unable to wear this kind of robe that had been worn out. Only those who engage themselves in the Dhamma practice and who by nature are used to such attire deserve it." So saying the Buddha gave up his robe for Maha Kassapa Thera's. After the exchange of robes done in this way, the Buddha put on the Mahathera's robe and the Mahathera donned the Buddha's. At that moment the great earth quaked violently down to the water limit as if it were saying though it lacks mind and volition: "Exalted Buddha, you have done something difficult to do. There has never been in the past such an occasion on which a Buddha gives away his robe to his disciple. I cannot bear up this virtue of yours."
On the part of the Venerable Maha Kassapa Thera, no arrogance arose in him just by getting the Buddha's robe; he never thought: "Now I have obtained the robe previously used by the Exalted One: I have nothing to strive now for higher Paths and Fruitions." Instead, he made a vow to practise the thirteen austere (dhutanga) practices most willingly as taught by the Buddha. Because he put great efforts in developing the ascetic Dhamma, he remained only for seven days as a worldling and on the eighth day at early dawn attained Arahantship with the fourfold Analytical Knowledge (Patisambhida-magga nana).
Setting this Mahathera as an example, the Buddha delivered many discourses as contained in the Nidanavagga Kassapa Samyutta (see the translation of the same Samyutta). The Buddha admired the Mahathera through many Suttas such as Cand'upama-Sutta in which the Buddha says: "Kassapo bhikkhave candupamo kulani upasankamati'Monks, Kassapa Thera approached his donors of the four social classes by controlling his deed, word and thought like the moon, i.e. being absolutely free from physical, verbal and mental roughness does he approach his donors." Later on the Buddha bestowed on him an etadagga title by citing the noble Mahathera's dhutanga practices as preserved in the Kassapa Samyutta and by uttering:
"Etadaggam bhikkhave mama savakanam bhikkhunam dhutavadanam yadidam Mahakassapo," "Monks, among my disciples bhikkhus, who practise by themselves and who teach and exhort others to practise the excellent dhutanga practices which shake off moral impurities (kilesa), Maha Kassapa Thera is the best."
That is the story of Maha Kassapa Thera.
To be continued
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